Perspective Seeking


7/9/23

I can be impatient. I am a perpetual clarity seeker and am challenged by waiting around and by boring stuff. 😊 If I need to wait, how many minutes are we waiting for? If someone is sharing instructions, should I be listening intently, or will they also give them to us in writing?  I typically operate as fully-in or fully-out and I don’t spend much time in the in-between. If I am asked to do so, I feel like a hostage.

The epitome of what I find boring is listening to an unengaging tour guide.  I have spent countless hours teaching others how to teach for engagement, so that’s probably why being talked at is such a trigger for me. But what I’ve learned is that clarity and peace are a mindset & are always possible. We don’t have to be victims; we always have agency in some capacity.

If we are in a situation that challenges us, we can choose from the 3 Ps.

Perspective. We can change our perspective. When participants are settling into a day of training, I encourage them to arrive.  To let go of everything else out there and experience 1% more joy or peace. Byron Katie even encourages with her book Loving What Is to lean into whatever the experience is with gratitude as it is your reality.

Walking with the group in Urbino I started to think, “Even though this tour doesn’t interest me, I could enjoy the sound of the birds.” I could figure out how to shake it off and realize this is a first-world problem. I could let it go.  I also decided to take my energy off the guide.  I tried meditating every time we stopped. Laura Doll says that anytime she is faced with a situation that makes her impatient she fills in the blank to herself: “This is good because…” and that it has changed her life.

Proximity. We can change our proximity and get away from the issue, trigger, or problem. Sometimes changing our job or working with a different team can make all the difference in the world. After 20 minutes into the tour, I ducked into a gelato shop and read Lessons in Chemistry and ate a pistachio cream-filled crepe and was happy as a clam. This seemed like a better strategy than trying to self-regulate for the next 90 minutes.

Persuasion. We can try to persuade a different outcome or demonstrate influence.  If we don’t like it, state our case, and speak up. Be solution oriented.  As we were standing in the rain listening to the history of the castle, someone spoke up and asked if we could keep walking and find a place to take cover to listen better.

The 4th option. At times, we forget that these are our only 3 healthy choices, and we fall prey to the 4th choice. This is to complain or worry but do nothing differently, allowing the issue to live rent-free in our minds. We can put all we experience in life into the 3 categories encompassed in the sphere of influence: What’s within our control, out of our control, and within our influence. The moment we catch that we are living in the 4th option, we can make a change.

I know that tolerating ambiguity is an advanced leadership skill. I am currently riding this learning edge. When I have a meal, I like to know how many dishes are coming out so that I can figure out how to pace myself and strategize my portions along the way. In Italy, we have had 9 course meals and I never know how many there will be in total.  Bread with olive oil. Prosciutto & olives & cheese. Garbanzo bean salad. Eggplant parmesan. One pizza course. A second pizza course.  Then ravioli pasta or risotto. Then gnocchi pasta.  Finally, gelato & espresso. And I am absolutely about to burst.

The first 3 times, I was impatient with the unknowing.  Even resenting the lack of clarity. And then I remembered. I have agency. With that, I decided to just enjoy the ride as a spiritual practice of growth (and take smaller portions).

          If we are paying attention, we have the opportunity to learn from the world around us in any moment. This influences our perspective.  This yoga retreat is filled with 20 women (and 1 man) who enjoy communing with one another.  With the median age being 45-50 years old, the topic of aging came up.  General complaints like age spots, menopause, aching knees, memory challenges, wrinkles, etc. Then Meryl said something that changed everything for me.

“Aging is a privilege.” With my dear 40-year-old colleague’s death just 6-weeks in the rearview mirror, I realized how true this was. My entire perspective on aging changed in an instant. Now I see my brown spots as badges of decades well lived.

          What perspectives are you shifting?

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